From the reams of Overwatch fan fiction and art created—not to mention the unofficial Overwatch dating sim in development—it’s clear that players are more than a little obsessed with the characters in Blizzard’s popular first-person shooter.
To explore this phenomenon, two of remeshed’s resident bisexual contributors, Cora Walker and Amanda Jean, set out to examine the appeal of Overwatch’s characters, starting with the women—who are all scientifically confirmed to be 100% girlfriend material. They discuss the characters wildly different personalities, strengths, and varieties of hotness, from Mei’s cute glasses to Mercy’s moral complexity to Symmetra’s ribbon dance.
Not convinced of a particular character’s romantic appeal? Let them persuade you.
Amanda: The one thing I know for sure about Pharah is that she takes her job seriously. You have McCree the LARPing cowboy and Tracer having a grand time, and meanwhile there’s Pharah, who’s like “I will nuke you from orbit”. Whenever I hear “Justice rains from above”, I pee a little. Her face is great, but she’s more terrifying than beautiful to me.
Cora: I really dig Pharah. I have a lot of feelings about how much I want to see her in a suit. I also think she walks the line between butch and femme in a really interesting way.
Amanda: They have five women of color, and I’m like, “Please don’t put them all in fetishy outfits and in the Support class”, and Pharah’s Offense in impenetrable armor.
Cora: She’s literally a fighter jet. Not just a fighter pilot, but a fighter jet. A sexy fighter jet.
I think the other thing that’s really cool to me about Pharah personality-wise is her commitment to her duty, to her command. I hope to see more of her relationship with Ana, because I think there’s a lot of great potential there.
Pharah should be your girlfriend if: You’re a little too into Transformers or being stepped on.
Amanda: If Tracer would stay in one place long enough for me to look at her, I’d have more to say about how cute she is. But the fact that she’s a difficult character to play well makes her more attractive to me. She’s infuriating when she’s not on your team.
Cora: In the short with her and Widowmaker, there was a clear moral disagreement there. You can see how they’re gameplay counters, but they’re also personal and intellectual counters. Her tension with Widowmaker drew me to her in the first place; it’s rare for two female characters to have that kind of tension, and I am drawn to that sort of thing in queer narratives also. Our first glimpse of Tracer is of her waiting to watch Mondatta talk, coming to see this advocate for peace speak, which is so interesting because she was also part of a paramilitary organization. And in-game she says to Zenyatta, “Mondatta was an inspiration to me.”
She even asks Widowmaker, “Why? Why would you do this?” I think Tracer wants to see the best in people. Blizzard walks a good line with Tracer being hopeful and having an innocence kink.
Amanda: She’s on an almost aggravating side of peppy but never crosses it. You said she gives you a Sera from Dragon Age: Inquisition vibe, and now I joke she’s the non-frustrating version of Sera. They both serve as cheeky comic relief. You see from the shorts and studying Overwatch lore with a magnifying glass that she has similar depth.
And the similarity helps me to feel like, “Oh, she gay.”
Cora: Sera is very critical of people she meets, but Tracer expects the best.
Tracer should be your girlfriend if: You crushed on Sera but could have done without her prejudice.
Amanda: Look, I need to Google her age really quick.
Cora: She’s the youngest.
Amanda: She’s at least nineteen, so I can talk about this without feeling really slimy.
I love D.Va. She’s my main. She’s such a millennial. She’s a competitive gamer; she livestreams her battles; she’s named her mech Bunny.
Cora: D.Va has all these signifiers of girlishness but she’s a tank and really hard to kill.
Amanda: Because of her girl-coded stuff, she feels younger than nineteen. It makes me feel a little weird. But I love her. I want her to be my girlfriend very badly. I love Hana Song.
Cora: She’s not just a soldier and gamer but also an idol. It’s very contrary to an American image of what it means to be a gamer.
Amanda: And when she’s out of the mech she’s so vulnerable. Every time she’s out I’m like, “No, protect me, I’m a naked baby.” She is just a human girl running around in battle with her little gun. I will protect my girlfriend D.Va against everything and everyone.
Cora: She’s too young to have been in the Omnic Crisis but was raised with that conflict as the background radiation of her life. It’s another thing that feels very millennial about her.
D.Va should be your girlfriend if: You are willing to fight Amanda to the death for the privilege. Or if you like candy-coated pwnage.
Amanda: Mei is 31, which is not what I would have guessed because she’s rendered so cutely.
Cora: She was frozen in cryogenic sleep, so is she really 31?
Amanda: She’s probably older than 31, but she certainly looks young.
I had a little bit of the same problem with D.Va, in that they render them in such a cute, young way, it unfortunately brushes up against Western stereotypes of Asian women. It’s just hard to see her as hot knowing that’s the lens. But she’s very adorable! I would date Mei!
Though that has no bearing on the fact that she’s hard to kill and deadly in combat.
Cora: I love Mei’s cute little glasses. I love that she’s a nerd. And I love her little robot companion. And she’s right up there with Tracer in terms of hopefulness. “This world is worth fighting for!”
Amanda: I don’t want to detract from the important stuff you’re talking about, but looking at the art for Mei, her head is just a cute girl with her cute hair, but if you scroll down, she has thighs that could snap my neck. They’re glorious. I’m sorry I never noticed, and that’s all I’m going to be looking at now when I play. Oh boy.
Cora: She’s one the characters that ambiguously—question mark?—has a somewhat different body type.
Amanda: It’s hard to tell because she’s buried in fur and straps. She looks like she’s going to wrestle a polar bear, feed us during a long winter, and then lay me down on a rug made of the polar bear’s skin.
Cora: So she could take your lightsaber, cut open your tauntaun, and shove you inside it?
Amanda: Absolutely. Please, God, yes.
Mei should be your girlfriend if: You’re really into climate science.
Amanda: My beautiful French mistress. I was really sad because I remembered she was married, but then I also remembered that her husband is dead, so I can slide right in there.
I think we can all agree that Widowmaker is the most gratuitous in terms of her design. But her backstory and character is complex, yet she looks like eye candy.
Cora: My generous take on that is she’s undergone so much brainwashing and genetic testing from Talon that they’ve made her into that sexualized object.
Amanda: We’ll give Blizzard the benefit of the sexist doubt.
I think she’s Blizzard’s version of Black Widow. Even the name is similar. Although it’s so funny: she killed her husband, so she is her own widow maker.
Cora: She’s very much a reference to Black Widow. Which is why I want Tracer to be her Clint Barton. I just want to be able to say that Tracer was sent to kill Widowmaker and made a different call, okay?
Amanda: I don’t normally ascribe to the idea that accents different from your own are just so hot, but with her she’s so confident and French. “One shot, one kill.”
Cora: Despite all the weird choices in her character design, I find her genuinely engaging.
Widowmaker should be your girlfriend if: You find the imminent threat of being murdered in your sleep sexy.
Amanda: I want to be a tiny person who lives on Zarya’s bicep.
Cora: I want her to crush me.
Amanda: Blizzard seems to have responded to the criticism of their very conventionally attractive and same-y female character designs with Zarya, a pink-haired Russian tank who could snap you in half.
Cora: “You want diversity in body types? Here’s Zarya.” I don’t know if they expected the shrieks of joy they were answered with.
Amanda: Zarya is the most obviously queer coded character in Overwatch. She’s the game’s butch aesthetic, and she has pink hair—an extra layer of delightful queer frosting.
Cora: The fact that she’s a lifter, it’s one of those things that Blizzard could be a toxic stereotype, but for me it works. The pink hair is certainly cute but doesn’t make her femme.
Amanda: She’s only 28, which I’m surprised by. I kept wanting to elevate her to Mom status.
Zarya should be your girlfriend if: You want a beautiful Russian woman to bench press your actual body.
Amanda: I want to talk about Hot Mom. Hot Grandma.
Cora: Oh no.
Amanda: I have this knee jerk reaction of “Take me, Ana,” and I wonder if straight men have that too, or if it’s a bi or lesbian thing. On one hand, she’s the team grandma with no time for your tomfoolery, but she’s ultra-competent and I’m into that.
Cora: I’m not into age difference as much personally, so she never pinged me that way.
Amanda: Young Ana, older Ana—whatever. I’m all about it.
Cora: I feel like five years ago in the game industry, if you’d said, “Oh my God, we’re going to have this diverse, team-based FPS, and the first DLC is going to be a sniper woman of color who shoots healing at you, and is also sixty—”
Amanda: They’d be like, “What social justice crap is this?” “SURPRISE, IT’S BLIZZARD!”
Cora: She’s also one of my favorite characters to play. I also love everything about her character design even if I wouldn’t date her, but I want her to stare angrily at me as I date Pharah. I want to marry into her family.
Amanda: Here’s the thing: I want to make out with Ana and bask in her, but I also want to date Pharah. There’s weird stuff going on there.
Ana should be your girlfriend if: You like a woman with experience.
Amanda: I have a lot of feelings about Mercy. I love that she’s a doctor who did some shady stuff but tried to pull back; that she’s thirty-seven; that she’s a guardian angel. I don’t love that she’s super squishy and has a useless blaster that might as well be a water gun or a NERF rifle. I can’t exactly NERF Bastion to death.
Also, I’m annoyed by her boobs. Not the boobs themselves—they’re perfect, they should sculpt them and put them in the MoMA. My problem is, why are they so effing prominent? And her Heroic emote and her Angelic victory pose literally thrust her chest forward in the most ostentatious way.
It’s an odd choice for Mercy. She’s a healer, in white, with a halo, blonde—but also, boobs.
Cora: I have never been so torn between my feminism and the other part of my nature as a shallow queer woman than I was by Mercy’s witch skin. That was an interesting moral conflict deep inside of me.
Amanda: Oh my God, I was so into witch Mercy too. Her costume bothered me so much less than default Mercy’s boobs thrust out because it was a costume.
Cora: A part of me feels like Mercy is that girl who dresses like a sexy witch on Halloween because she’s not a sexy witch any other time of the year.
Amanda: Her personality and her deeds are so at odds. She was trying to tell Overwatch not to go toward weaponizing biotics. After the war, she wanted to go help the innocent. She’s very focused on team health and is very dedicated. Yet you know she probably did whatever happened to Reaper and Genji.
Cora: There’s a really unfortunate thing that happens in the women-dominated side of fandom, where paradoxically that community tends to struggle with female characters with complexity. There’s a lot of parroting the Saint-Sinner dichotomy. I see a huge element of fandom trying to call Mercy evil, and that’s a valid reading, but—
Amanda: But she’s also a doctor who wants to heal people.
Cora: And she maybe did some questionable things to accomplish that, but fandom loves that depth with male characters, and I don’t see Mercy being allowed to have the same nuance.
Mercy should be your girlfriend if: You’ve ever wanted to play doctor. Or if you like moral complexity.
Amanda: Symmetra, I weep every time I look at you, but also, why the hell are you wearing that?
If you’ve seen some of her skins, there’s the two really questionable, culturally dubious ones—Devi and Goddess. I’m not saying she has to be covered head to toe, but even the thigh slits on her regular outfits… She must be using double-sided tape at all times.
However, the part of me that likes to look at pretty things is like, “Giiiiiirl. You look good.”
Cora: Her ribbon dance? The feminist in me is, again, very concerned, but the shallow bi girl is very distracted.
Amanda: I have her skinned as the vampire specifically so I can feel less weird about her wearing a revealing outfit since it’s meant to be vampy. No pun intended.
Cora: All of Blizzard’s character designs are really attractive. I think they managed to skirt pure sexualization for the most part. Obviously, they can do more, but the characters feel grounded in their own identities.
Amanda: There’s a surprising amount of complexity Blizzard has wrapped into so little canon.
Cora: Do you want to talk about how cool it is that her power is essentially 3D printing?
Amanda: I just want to talk about how sad it is when my beautiful turret children are destroyed.
Cora: Anyway, she 3D prints using light, matter, and dance. It’s neat.
Symmetra should be your girlfriend if: You’ve been meaning to try out 3D printing but can’t do math.
Amanda: Before I get derailed by how much I love her hair, I want to talk about how fandom is collectively losing it because she’s thirty. They just can’t believe she’s thirty because she says “boop” and wears lots of bright colors.
Cora: Not that any of the Overwatch women, with the exception of Ana, really look their age. Mercy’s supposedly thirty-seven.
Amanda: I want to know their skin care regimens.
I love that Sombra is Mexican, I love that she’s super cute—
Cora: And she’s a hacker!
Amanda: She’s a hacker! And she’s not Support. She’s Offense.
She’s definitely girlfriend material for me. But I don’t think she’d want to stick around—I feel like we’d have a great time, and then she’d look through all my emails and leave before the sun was up. I’d see her again, and she’d be like, “Yes, we had a wonderful time, but I’m not your girlfriend.”
Cora: She’s very independent. I think it was interesting to position her as so hyper-competent opposite Reaper and Widowmaker, as kind of a morally neutral character. You can see she’s not totally on board with what Talon is doing. She has her own agenda (which is hot to me).
Amanda: She’s not even so much double-agenting as she is every-agenting. Pan-agenting.
Cora: She’s pan, is what you’re saying?
Amanda: You’re speaking my language.
Sombra should be your girlfriend if: You’ve always wanted to be a member of Anonymous but also like cat gifs.
In conclusion, Cora and Amanda would like to remind you that every single woman in Overwatch could kill you with their eyes closed and that they’re perfect and beautiful. None among us deserve to date them, which is good, because they’re not actually real.
Coming soon: their penetrating thoughts on the men—and masculine-coded robots—of Overwatch.